Review: Double Takes (Shooting Stars #2) by K. Vale

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Double Takes (Shooting Stars #2) coverFor Giovanni Savale, lead singer of Three Deaf Mice, life could never be less like that of a rock ‘n roll star.  His band reached the heights of popularity in the ninties, until an experimental album almost destroyed their fan base.  Now Gio is trying to put together a new album in the midst of a personnel crisis.  After nine years of a tumultuous and unhappy marriage, Gio is trying to hold on to the only good thing that came out of that union, his son Marco.  In order to get the money needed for an expensive divorce lawyer and to provide a stable home for his son, Gio has agreed to be a part of a reality series about him and the band.  Only its not going the way Gio expected.

The series producer wants to increase the show’s ratings and to do so he intends to showcase Gio’s bisexuality and a new “fabulous” boyfriend, a fake boyfriend to boost interest in the show.  It all started with a comment made off the cuff in an interview Gio did for a rock magazine.  He never thought that lead to this mess and the revival of desires Gio thought he had buried in his past.

Kyrie, the flamboyant  and funny actor hired as Gio’s pretend boyfriend is cute but it’s Lance Garrett, the mysterious and sexy owner of the local antique shop, that sparks Gio’s interest and passion.  But Lance is hiding secrets of his own.  In between battling his ex for custody of Marco,fighting the producer for some sanity and privacy, and Lance’s past, can Gio find love and the happiness he seeks?

I throughly enjoyed the first book in the shooting stars series, Forever is Now.  That had a rock star, a former lover, a past to be reconciled and a love that burned brightly throughout the years.  It has a small cast of characters and a basic, endearing plot.  Double Takes, the second novel in the Shooting Stars series, is a whole different type of story.

I was intrigued by the premise of Double Takes.  A fading rock star with money and soon-to-be ex-wife issues agrees to a reality cable series about himself and his band in order to earn the money he needs for a high powered lawyer.  What a great concept for a story,  especially considering the ubiquitous nature of reality tv shows today. An additional element here is the fact that Gio’s true sexuality has been suppressed by the times and his long term marriage. Only a throwaway line in an old magazine interview brings his bisexuality back out into the light.  And once that item has been seized on by his unscrupulous producer to be used to launch the new season, then Gio has a whole new set of personal issues to deal with, including outing himself to his bandmates.  I liked the  way the author dealt with these concepts,uniting them in a cohesive manner into her narrative.

When Double Takes and Gio are dealing with these plot layers, the story is fun, frustrating, and pretty realistic.  Unlike the rockers of Forever is Now, I never got the feeling that music was all that important any more for these older rockers.  They’ve been there, done that, and are now just playing for the fans and money.  They need to tour but Gio is stuck in one place because of his divorce, and needing to provide stability for his son.  That’s another very authentic element here as is Gio’s love for his son.  So far, we have three plot threads that make this a interesting and terrific story.  Between a reality show, a disintegrating marriage and custody battle, a father and son relationship, and having to deal with a hither to unknown aspect of his sexuality,  that would  absorb the majority of any story.  Especially as you will throw in a romance as well that will have Gio reexamining his sexuality and desires.  Loved the way the author dealt with this element too.

There are two romantic lead possibilities here. One is Kyrie, the adorable actor hired for the role as Gio’s boyfriend on the series.  Vale is setting up Kyrie and his ex brother in law as the next couple in the Shooting Stars series, so the amount of attention given to this secondary player makes sense.  Gio’s “real” romantic interest is Lance Garrett, an antiques dealer he met when trying to sell off items to help pay for his lawyer.  They meet, are attracted to each other  and try to deal with the awkward situation created by the tv show and his “fake” boyfriend.  Again, another wonderful concept and it works to highlight relationsip issues and feelings of trust the men have to work through.  I really wish the author had left it at this because these men have so much to work through to get to a solid place with their new status as lovers that to portray their “relationship dance” alone could take most of this story.

But that is not to be.  And for me this is where the story starts to disconnect from everything the author had established in the preceding chapters. I don’t believe that I am giving away anything by stating that Lance is not what he seems.  The blurb  infers that there is something mysterious about Lance and there is a problem from the past that will arrive to cause problems.  And it does but not just for the characters but for the readers as well.

From this point, the story splits off into something totally unexpected and wildly dissonant from the rest of the story elements we were involved in.  It’s almost as if we have an entirely different book and plot going on.  It comes out of nowhere and soon the author starts piling on more surprises and twists than this story can or should have been asked to handle.  Left behind are all the other major plot points…the band, the tv show, the divorce, even the father/son relationship…all dissolves under the need to work this new angle into Double Takes.  For me, this story then crumbles under the weight of all that material and extraneous plot devices.

And that’s a shame because the promise of the original concepts and the wonderful manner in which this story started had me smiling in anticipation of the tale to follow but left me perplexed by how quickly it all fell apart.  I did like so much about Double Takes and what the author attempted to do with her characters and plot.  It was ambitious and interesting.  So I will be looking forward to the next story in this series, featuring Kyrie, an altogether different type of shooting star and Greg, his ex brother in law.  While we are waiting for that story to arrive, go back to the beginning and Forever is Now to get your rocker fix from Kimber Vale.

Cover art not credited but I like the cover.  Its eye catching and interesting.

 Books in the Shooting Stars series include to date:

Forever is Now (Shooting Stars #1)
Double Takes (Shooting Stars #2)

Book Details:

ebook
Published April 28th 2014 by Liquid Silver Books (first published April 20th 2014)
edition languageEnglish
seriesShooting Stars #2
Buy Links:   Amazon    ARe   Liquid Silver Books

Author Spotlight: Kimber Vale and her latest release, Double Takes (Shooting Star#2)

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spotlight on books

Double Takes (Shooting Stars #2) cover

Double Takes Wedding InviteScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is happy to welcome Kimber Vale here today to talk about her Shooting Stars rock star series and Gio Savale of Double Takes, her latest release.  Kimber has also brought along a contest to win a copy of Double Takes. Contest ends Midnight 5/16.  Details and link at the bottom of the post.

Welcome, Kimber.

My Inspiration for Gio Savale of Double Takes
By Kimber Vale

When I began writing Forever is Now, the first book in my Shooting Stars series, I envisioned it as a single, standalone story. At some point during my writing, however; the idea for my MC of Double Takes wormed its way into my brain.

Back when I was in high school, I remember hearing rumors that Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers was bisexual. I took them as truth (aren’t all rumors in high school true???) and I didn’t think much about it. For whatever reason, I thought he had admitted to being bi in some magazine interview. Roll forward a number of years (I don’t want to think about how many) and I’ve got this idea in my head to write a rock star with that sort of backstory. Out of curiosity, and maybe I can call it research—why the hell not?—I did an online search into Anthony Kiedis’ sexual orientation, self-proclaimed and otherwise.

Turns out I shouldn’t have put much stock in high school rumors.

But thanks anyway, rumor mill, because I was already invested in that plot point. Gio’s band did a show with the band from Forever is Now, which allowed me to introduce Gio however briefly. I had already begun writing Double Takes when I submitted Forever, so I was able to firm up Gio’s story and make sure the Gio in Forever matched the Gio in Double Takes. I was glad for that; otherwise I would have been stuck with initial concept Gio instead of 3-D Gio. 😉

The same happened when I started book three. Gio’s onscreen love interest in Double Takes, Kyrie, gets his own book next. I was happy to have a good chunk of Kyrie and Greg’s book complete while Double Takes was in edits so I could go back and make sure all of my facts jibed from book to book.
I’m not sure how authors do it when they start a spin off after the first book is already out. They’re locked into whatever they initially wrote, which could suck.

Anyway, I had a blast crafting Double Takes. I think it’s a multilayered story that will keep readers on their toes. I hope you’ll check it out. Gio and I thank you. 😉
———–

BeFunky_Stenciler_6Author Bio:
Kimber Vale writes romance of all stripes, from hot hetero stories to mouthwatering men falling in love (under the name K. Vale). Keep up with Kimber’s news and follow all her tour stops on her blog: http://www.kimbervale.me and friend/follow her on Facebook and Twitter @KimberVale. Come for the sex. Stay for the story. http://www.authorkimbervale.com

 

 

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Find Double Takes:
On Amazon:
At Liquid Silver Books:
All Romance: 
Barnes & Noble:  
Watch the Double Takes book trailer:

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Contest: Kimber Vale has a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card (winner’s choice) up for grabs!  Ends midnight 5/16.  Go here at Rafflecopter to enter. 

Double Takes (Shooting Stars #2) coverBook Details:

Author K. Vale
Series Shooting Stars.Book # 2
Genre GLBT, M/M, Contemporary, Musicians, Music
Heat Level 3 .Words 63,000  Publication Date 04/21/2014

 

Double Takes Blurb:

Ah, the life of a rock star. Everyone thinks it’s nothing but sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Not for Giovanni Savale.

For the lead singer of Three Deaf Mice, a band that reached its pinnacle in the late nineties, it’s nothing but an ugly divorce with a custody battle, money trouble, and now the nightmare exposure of starring in a reality television show. When his producer decides to cash in on an infamous interview Gio did years ago, and give the self-confessed bisexual rocker an onscreen boyfriend, things really hit the fan. Gio is certain his sexual experimentation back in his drug-abusing days meant nothing — after all he’s been married for nine years, clean and sober for nearly as long, and he has a son. And Gio is not remotely attracted to Kyrie, the funny, flamboyant actor they choose for his love interest. Of course, Lance Garrett, the mysterious and sexy owner of the local antique shop, Double Takes, is a whole different story. The guy has Gio planning out a future he never imagined. With the threat of losing all custody of his ten-year-old son, ghosts from the past returning for revenge, and the cameras rolling, can Gio keep his head above water and his heart from getting broken?

 

Excerpt:

Lance’s hand on top of his stopped Gio from silencing the irritating voice.

Gio sat down heavily next to Lance, one hand still burdened by his dinner plate and the other sandwiched between Lance’s palm and the remote. He didn’t dare pull it away, and Lance apparently wanted to see the entire commercial because he kept Gio trapped there until it finished.

“What was that all about?” Lance’s warm fingers slid from Gio’s, leaving his hand cold.

“Ah, it’s dumb. The world’s most degrading way to make a paycheck.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure.” Lance stared at something past Gio’s shoulder.

“The producers took some stupid poll and found out the viewers want to see me…” Gio paused in search of the right word. What the hell did people want to see? “They wanna see me squirm. They want to see a supposedly bisexual man drowning in the same-sex dating pool. It’s all bullshit—just for ratings.”

“So, you’re not really dating that guy?”

“No! Well, yeah, I have to for the show. But not really. It’s just a publicity stunt, you know?”

“So, you aren’t bi, then?” Lance cocked his head and skewered Gio with those intense hazel eyes

“Yeah! No! I mean … it’s not like I…” What the fuck was he even trying to say? You’ve screwed around with guys before, ass munch.

The confused squint of the eyes staring back at him—moss-green with spikes of brown radiating from his pupils—told Gio his answer didn’t exactly make sense to Lance, either.

“I always wondered if those rumors were true before you got married.” Lance made it sound like a question.

“Well, you know how it is … when you’re young, and you party too much. Sometimes you do shit you wouldn’t normally do if you weren’t fucked up, right?” Gio gave a weak laugh. Continue reading

Mother’s Day and the Week Ahead in Reviews, Book Tours and Stuff!

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It’s Mother’s Day and I am taking the day off for family events and such.  So without much further discourse, here is the week ahead in reviews, author guest posts, book tours and contests.  It looks to be a wonderful week:

This Week’s Schedule:

Monday, May 12:              Author Spotlight: Kimber Vale on Double Takes

Tuesday,  May 13:             Riptide’s Hostile Ground Book Tour with Aleksandr Voinov and L.A. Witt

Wed., May 14:                    Daylight Again by SE Jakes

Thursday, May 15:            Double Takes by K. Vale

Friday, May 16:                  Author Spotlight: RJ Scott

Sat., May 17:                       One Night by RJ Scott

Review: Forever is Now (Shooting Stars #1) by Kimber Vale

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Forever is Now coverNine years ago Alex Bremen was very much in love with Chance Ralan.  The high school boys were inseparable until Alex’s dad caught them together.  The events from that traumatic night tore them apart. The breakup permanently separated them and  left Alex forever bitter at Chance’s betrayal. Now Alex is a successful director and producer of independent documentaries at his own production firm.  And Chance? Chance went on to rock god status when he turned  his high school rock band  into the famous Armageddon Showdown. Over the years, Alex had got a concert or two…just out of curiosity of course but never attempted to contact him.  And he never again heard from Chance.

Then Alex happens to hear the  song he wrote for Chance all those years ago played on the radio.  Stunned and enraged, he listens as his song is credited to Chance Ralan and its Armageddon Showdown’s latest hit!  The song “Forever is Now” was Alex’s love song  to Chance.  It was always meant to be a private things between them and now Chance has not only stolen it but claimed to have written it as well.

Determined to take his revenge and take back his song, Alex travels across country with his production team to meet up with Armageddon Showdown and Chance Ralan.  At first Chance has no idea that the company that is to film their tour is also bringing with it someone from their past hellbent on making Chance pay for his actions once and for all.  But Love is a quixotic thing and as the men tangle, old passions and feelings that never completely went away start to rise again.  In the end, what will win out?  Love or revenge?  Does time really heal all wounds or let them fester, so all hope of love is lost?

Parted young lovers, a troubled rock star and a spurned nice guy set on revenge.  Yep, I’m in.  Kimber Vale takes those ingredients and turns them into a highly readable and engaging tale of love, betrayal, and a rocker’s redemption.  I love rockers!  All the drama, glitz and glamor that surrounds them often hides a wealth of problems and hard work.  They make for perfect main characters and Kimber Vale’s Chance Ralan is another wonderful rock god character readers will love to embrace.  Haunted by his actions and betrayal of the one person who loved him all those years ago, Alex is wading in a mire of his own making.  The pierced, tattoed rock god is a far cry from the scared kid who only wanted to play music but Vale does a great job of showing how Chance’s insecurities and  regrets are now playing out through drunken binges, denial, and depression.   You should dislike Chance but he is so miserable and increasingly out of control that it is hard not to feel compassion for the guy, especially when Alex shows up to confront him.

Ah, Alex…..gorgeous, in control, out and now spitting mad Alex.  The story’s pov switches back and forth between our two protagonists but the Prologue and first chapters belong to Alex.  We see the events happen from his eyes and pick up 9 years later where it is clear he has never gotten over neither his resentment and bitterness nor his love of Chance.  Alex is a easy character to love.  He confronted his demons then made the tough, right choices in his life.  He became successful without sacrificing those personality traits that makes him accessible to the reader.  Plus he has a great sister he adores.  You start off understanding Alex, then you like him and finally, you fall in love with him as deeply as Chance already is.

Alex’s love life is as stalled as his affections as his latest lover just happens to resemble a  young Chance. As Vale heads her characters towards a combustible reunion and a confrontation, it is clear that both men need this to go forward in their lives. The author has created a wonderful atmosphere of suspense and anticipation for the reader leading up to this moment and she never quite gives in to the impulse to make it explosive, keeping us on the edge as we continue into the narration.  I loved that aspect of this story.  It totally works in keeping us engaged and in the moment.

There is quite a cast of secondary characters here that have important roles to play.  There are the Armageddon Showdown band members of varying degrees of maturity and congeniality,  and Cliff the manager who is smarmy from the ground up. Alex’ production company, Real Reels, is represented by Jools and Miles, the mistake and Alex’s ex lover who unfortunately is still circling around Alex like a hopeful bee. I like that no one character felt extraneous here and that each was as well crafted as the next.

Kimber Vale does seriously address Chance’s drinking and drug habits.  When we start the story Chance is already an alcoholic in denial who also uses drugs as casually as he does booze.  Without going too deeply into  the steps necessary for recovery and rehab, the author makes it plain that this self destructive behavior is hurting him on all fronts. And that only Chance himself holds the key that will make him realize how high the cost will be if changes aren’t made.  Vale keeps it realistic without being clinical, especially given the length of the story.

There are places where the story slows down, but that only happens occasionally.  The narrative picks up speed as it heads towards the end, and even though most will be able to tell who the villains of the story are and what possibly their roles might be as the plot unfolds, the pleasure you get from these characters and the drama of their situation will have you glued to the page until the very end.

Need a great little fix for your rockers in love addiction?  Start here with Forever is Now and Chance and Alex.  Kimber Vale continues the series with Giovanni Savale of Deaf Blind Mice in Double Takes (Shooting Stars #2). Giovanni Savale has a small mention here as his band plays along side Armageddon Showdown.  I will meet up with you there!  Happy Reading!

Cover Art by Unknown Artist who did a good job with the characters and cover design.

Books in the Series to Date include:

Forever is Now(Shooting Stars #1)
Double Takes (Shooting Stars #2)

Book Details:

ebook, 101 pages
Published September 9th 2013 by Liquid Silver Books
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.lsbooks.com/pre-order-coming-soon-romance-books-c322.php
seriesShooting Stars #1